How to Achieve Hormonal Harmony Naturally
Hormones. A word we are all familiar with, particularly woman. Hormones are chemical messengers in our body that play many vital roles in our mental, physical and emotional health.
Some of the ‘big players’ include oestrogen, testosterone, progesterone, insulin, thyroid hormones and hormones made by the adrenal glands such as cortisol and adrenaline. Hormones are generally controlled by the endocrine system.
Hormonal imbalances are becoming increasingly common mainly due to our modern lifestyles. Some examples include PMS, menopausal symptoms, endometriosis, polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS), fibroids, heavy/painful periods, infertility, thyroid conditions and more.
Many of us accept symptoms, such as painful periods or menopausal symptoms, as normal but did you know they are unheard of in other cultures? Or that they were not common until over the last few decades? Nutrition, exercise, toxin exposure, sleep, and stress levels all play important roles in hormone balance. This is good news as it means we have a lot of control over our hormonal health!
From a Naturopathic Nutritionist and a woman who admittedly has had her share of hormonal problems, here are some of my favourite tips:
- Do not eat low fat. Yes that is correct. Our body relies on a variety of fats to make hormones. Healthy sources of fats have been shown to increase insulin sensitivity, help regulate appetite and lower inflammation. Some great sources are wild caught salmon, coconut oil, avocados, extra virgin olive oil, nuts & seeds.
- Avoid plastics where you can. In particularly avoid putting hot food or drinks in plastic and do not heat plastic in the microwave. Plastics can release chemicals such as BPA that can wreak havoc with oestrogen.
- The same applies to trying to go organic when buying produce. Pesticides and herbicides can greatly disturb hormone balance.
- Take good care of your liver. Not only does the liver detoxify chemicals from our environment – believe me there are many – but also excess hormones such as oestrogen. If the liver is not functioning optimally you may be left with oestrogen dominance. To help the liver detoxify eat a lot of cruciferous vegetables – like broccoli, kale, cauliflower, asparagus, rocket, cabbage, cress, and brussel sprouts. They provide your liver with a compound called DIM which assists the detoxification pathways. Cruciferous vegetables are also full of fibre, magnesium and B vitamins.
One of my favourite tricks to keeping the liver healthy is squeezing an entire lemon into a glass of water first thing in the morning with 15-20 drops of milk thistle or dandelion drops. Dry brushing is also a quick and easy way to help with detoxification.
- Stress Management is vital. When our bodies feel stressed they produce cortisol. The same pathway is used to make cortisol is also used to make sex hormones. If you are chronically stressed the body will prioritise making cortisol over sex hormones. This is one of the reasons woman have difficulty conceiving when chronically stressed. Even taking 10 minutes a day to meditate, or to walk in nature, or stopping to take deep breaths every 1-2 hours can have a positive impact on balancing the cortisol/sex hormone pathway.
Maybe this means positive affirmations? Or a relaxing bath? Writing down 3 things you did well today? You must find what suits your schedule. Just remember to be kind and gentle to yourself.
- Balance your blood sugar. I suggest lowering or deleting refined carbohydrates and processed sugar from your diet. Do include complex carbohydrates such as sweet potatoes, brown organic rice, oats, lentils and pulses.
Try and have some protein with every meal or snack to avoid blood sugar spikes. Some examples of protein are nuts, nut butters, organic chicken, wild caught fish, organic soy, plain full fat yogurt, or beans.
- Herbs. Oh beloved herbs of the earth! Anyone else out there a fan? They truly can work wonders. Some common hebs used for hormonal issues are chaste tree, dong quai, holy basil, sage, red clover and MANY more. I would advise seeing a herbalist or naturopathic nutritionist/nutritional therapist to find the concoction specific to your needs.
- Take vitamin D or have your levels checked. Vitamin D acts like a hormone in the body and is known to help lower inflammation. Vitamin D has many vital roles but interestingly it has been shown to quieten down the part of the immune system that accepts foreign DNA; this could help in infertility.
I feel as though I could write for hours about this topic but now it is time to practice what I preach and take a relaxing and detoxifying bath. There are many other avenues you can take to balance your hormones, give these a try, it is a great place to start!
If you are struggling in anyway with hormonal health or unsure of what specific plan is best suited to you please feel free to get in touch with me.